PNC Tinkering for Tots

Pre-School Program

Greenfield Village

Special Event at Greenfield Village

  • Second Monday of each Month (May - October)
  • Time: 10am - noon

Free with Village admission.

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Tactile Learning. Encourage tiny hands to touch, twist and crinkle with age-appropriate activities created to build a foundation for lifelong, hands-on exploring and making. Compare, contrast and combine new materials each month in a screen-free environment where caregivers and tots collaborate on a pre-engineering journey that crosses curricula.

Hands-on Making. What does a brush sound like as it moves across paper? How does sand feel between fingers? Try out kid-scale crafts designed to support development of motor skills and creative thinking.

Exploring Artifacts. Take a kid’s-eye look at hidden gems in the museum and village to uncover surprising connections between materials and artifacts. Dig deeper with guidance from our experts and special guests to find the unexpected right before your eyes.

Inspiring Stories. Tame the wiggles and squirms with big ideas. How can we learn from others? How can we conquer a fear? Boost creative thinking and language development with stories chosen to inspire big dreams.

PNC Tinkering for Tots activities are based in material science using the frame of “compare, contrast and combine” with innovation learning through the habits of Model I, The Henry Ford’s innovation learning framework.

Five core activities combine to achieve a number of national standards for preschool curriculum as defined by the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning and Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. 

Featured Events:

June 10: Exploring Rocks and Minerals

This month, we continue the Engineering 101 materials themes by exploring rocks and minerals. We will look at where they come from, their properties and what they are used for.

Hands-on Activities:
  1. The Basics of Rocks & MineralsUnder the Liberty Craftworks Store Porch
    - Explore where rocks & minerals come from and how they are different. We’ll also explore their many uses.
  2. Crafting with RockUnder the Liberty Craftworks Store Porch
    - Create a fun and colorful craft using crushed rocks.
  3. Exploring the uses for rocks and minerals in Greenfield Village Loranger Grist Mill inside the Liberty Craftworks area and the Cotswold Cottage on Maple Lane
    - Visit these two buildings to explore how rocks have been used to turn corn and other grains into useful flour, or used to build a house to live in.
  4. Inspiring storiesNear the Spotsford Sawmill in Liberty Craftworks
    - Join our storyteller, who will read stories to inspire your Tinkering Tot. Today’s featured stories include What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada and Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth

Artifact of the Day this month:
Coaling Tower near the DT&M Roundhouse in Railroad Junction
Coaling towers, like this replica built for Greenfield Village in 2014 were an essential part of steam railroading. Without them there was little way to effectively fuel the motive power. Built of wood, this tower delivered coal (a sedimentary rock) that is burned to create steam in the boilers of our Village locomotives. Several times a days our trains use this tower to take on coal. Maybe you’ll get to see it in action during your visit.

July 8: Water and Steam

This month, we continue the Engineering 101 materials themes by taking a fresh look at two previously explored materials: Water and Steam. We will explore how water can change to steam and how it is used in both forms to work for us.

Hands-on Activities:

Discover How These Materials are Used
Explore these sites inside Greenfield Village to learn about how water and steam are useful materials that help us work, provide power, as well as fun! 

  1. Marshall Roundhouse 
    - Steam-powered locomotives work when fire is used to heat water. Boiling water makes steam that powered these powerful engines. Move full steam ahead to learn more about these materials.
  2. Loranger Grist Mill
    - Water running under the large water wheel creates the power needed to turn the rocks used inside the Grist Mill to grind the corn and other grains. Explore the wheel and then roll inside to see the rocks.
  3. Fun with Water - Porch of Village Pavilio
    - Discover what fun you can have when you add a little soap to water.

Inspiring Stories - In front of the Marshall Round House, across from Edison Illuminating
Join our storyteller, who will read stories to inspire your Tinkering Tot. Today’s featured stories include Pop! A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Burbaker Bradley and What Do You Do With a Chance by Kobi Yamada.

Artifact of the Day this month: Railroad Water Tower
This large wood tower holds a big supply of water needed to run our large steam engines. The spout is lowered to fill the tanks on the train with water, which is boiled by a fire created from the coal. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to watch the railroad operators take on water.

Future Themes:

August 12: Exploring Natural Materials
September 9: Exploring Rubber
October 14: Exploring Metal and Wood
November 11: Exploring Plastics and Metal
December 9: Exploring Paper and Fabric

Ticket Prices

Parking is $6 per vehicle for nonmembers, free for members.

Greenfield Village

    Member Non­member
Senior (62+) Free $25.25
General Admission (12-61) Free $28.00
Youth (5-11) Free $21.00
Children (4 & Under) Free Free

* Ticket prices are subject to change.


August - October Program (PDF)